The Enitan Story

Report date
October 2022

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

Workgroup: The two workgroups – Provider and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) workgroups have been instrumental to the progress that The Enitan Story (TES) has achieved during this reporting period. Both workgroups met twice, provided feedback on the final versions of the educational flyers that were developed for both Minnesota lawmakers and the general public, and provided suggestions on how to distribute the to reach the appropriate audiences.
The workgroups were also responsible for guiding how to tailor our process strategically when educating the legislators versus when educating the general public about labor trafficking. The Minnesota Department of Health and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also provided technical assistance and guidance as we navigated the legislators for educational purposes.
The SMEs worked beyond the scheduled workgroup meetings to ensure that we were able to reach appropriate audiences with the labor trafficking educational materials that were designed.
Communication with the workgroups through monthly updates has also been very helpful in receiving feedback that has helped TES to move closer to reaching its goal.
Outreach: Building upon the three community conversations held in the previous reporting cycle, TES has continued to engage in weekly outreach and we have conducted at least 30 outreachs to various organizations and the Safe Harbor Network directly, through the Regional Navigators and through the Minnesota Human Trafficking Taskforce. TES also participated in 3 community tabling events to meet people one-on-one and educate them about labor trafficking. As a result of these efforts, TES has reached at least, 356 families in Minnesota educating them about labor trafficking by giving them flyers and providing information about the services that TES offers both for direct services and also referrals to other service providers within an outside the Safe Harbor network for labor trafficking.
TES has also conducted professional training for individuals working directly or indirectly with individuals who are at risk or may be experiencing labor trafficking. Two of those training that TES will like to highlight focused on Familial Trafficking: The Intersection of Domestic Violence and Labor Trafficking and Survivor-Led Collaborative for Effective Policy Change.
Clinic Training: TES has received a commitment from one of the three clinics' proposed training on the project, the Minneapolis Clinic, and they are currently reading the literature ahead of the training to be delivered to their staff on how to identify labor trafficking among the patients that they serve. A training date is yet to be scheduled. We plan to have the training delivered in the winter.
Law Enforcement Training: TES is currently doing outreach with Law Enforcement and the MDH and BCA to reach this goal. TES participated as a collaborative partner by engaging the inputs of SMEs on a federal grant awarded to MDH to develop a protocol for LE by providing lived experience expertise on the project that is being implemented by the BCA and the Advocates for Human Rights. As a result, TES is able to access statewide police officers with contributions from the SMEs to train police officers in Minnesota.
Policies Development: TES is currently developing a Survivor-Informed Engagement Policy and Employee Handbook to improve our internal processes and ensure that we are working towards zero labor trafficking within and outside of TES. TES hopes that the Survivor-Informed Engagement Policy will also help guide our subcontractors in ensuring that they are taking measures to combat labor trafficking or eliminate it in their supply chain whether it is goods or services.
Labor Trafficking Survey: TES has received 192 responses from 57 fields of work. Among them, 45.6 percent affirmed that they have had contact with victims of labor trafficking while 33 percent of them noted that they might have had contact with victims of labor trafficking. The survey provided helpful data showing the prevalence of labor trafficking while offering various solutions including outreach, training, and funding, amongst others to combat labor trafficking in Minnesota.

Key lessons learned

Need for Enhanced Collaborative Outreach and coordination of services: In the process of implementing the project, one of the city representatives on the provider workgroup connected TES with one of the city’s labor divisions where labor trafficking was uncovered as a result of a wage theft investigation they were conducting. TES did a needs assessment on the potential victim and found that labor trafficking had occurred. As a result, the city worked with TES to find resources that were very limited to the client. This is regarded as a success story because it was through collaboration that TES was able to help the city realize that the case also exhibited some labor trafficking.
Despite great collaboration for victim identification, it is a challenge to provide victims with comprehensive services due to limited resources. As a result, some other actions that would continue to bring justice to the victim had to be delayed to ensure that the victim is safe. As one of our partners put it, “We are flying the plane while building it.” This is a challenge that we are collectively learning to address as we work together to protect those experiencing labor trafficking in Minnesota.
Funding: TES has realized that funding of services is one of the key elements required to meet the needs of labor trafficking victims. Once a victim is identified, there are limited resources available to help them move on with their lives, reintegrate back into the community and live a whole life, however, with limited resources, it is both challenging and traumatic for individuals experiencing labor trafficking to get comprehensive services like their sex trafficking counterparts. This is a challenge faced by TES and other service providers coming in contact with people with the lived experience of labor trafficking.
Without funding, it is almost impossible to meet the needs of Minnesotans who are experiencing labor trafficking – either they are youth or adults. This situation poses a risk to the individuals because it makes them stay longer than they should in their victimization. For example, unlike sex-trafficked youth, labor-trafficked youth, when identified is unable to get coordinated services to relocate into a safe housing program and is unable to access the existing Safe Harbor Housing program.

Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving

All three elements have contributed to the success of the project. The SMEs with lived experiences have contributed immensely by using survivors’ lenses to provide solutions. As a result, TES increased the number of SMEs from 6 to 9. In addition, the providers’ workgroup members have helped TES to reach other partners with similar projects like those working on wage theft where TES was able to uncover labor trafficking in the process of wage theft investigation. In addition, there were new partners who joined the workgroup.
The state agencies have been very resourceful in providing data and also technical assistance throughout the implementation of the project. They have also helped TES to successfully navigate terrains that we are not familiar with to help allies and new partners, including lawmakers understand the importance of recognizing labor trafficking and meeting the needs of victims and survivors. TES is hopeful that labor trafficking survivors will receive comprehensive services in the nearest future alongside their sex trafficking counterparts within the Safe Harbor system.

Other key elements of Community Innovation

Equity and Survivor Leadership: This project has helped TES to build equity through a survivor-led approach beyond a survivor-informed approach. The SMEs with lived experience were compensated equally with the nonprofit agencies that were represented in the workgroups. In addition, the SMEs were leading the project alongside the Executive Director of TES while the workgroup members comprised of state agencies’ staff and nonprofits’ staff were respectful of their ideas, suggestions, and feedback throughout the implementation process. For example, the provider workgroup members will ask what the SMEs’ recommendations were on certain matters and sometimes when they have a different suggestion, they would yield to the recommendations of the SMEs with lived experience. In addition, MDH suggested presenting at an international human trafficking summit where their staff presented alongside the TES Executive Director as lead presenter on how to implement successful projects and inform policy change through the lens of those with lived experiences as leaders on the project. The training helped the audience to learn how to work within the background as an effective guide.

Understanding the problem

Implementing the project has been pivotal to a deep dive into many elements that may contribute or are occurring simultaneously with labor trafficking such as domestic violence and labor trafficking or wage theft and labor trafficking. This has made those whose primary work focuses on these other areas to start taking more time to investigate for possible labor trafficking which if such a process continues will lead to more identification of labor trafficking and understanding the need to provide funding to support and meet the needs of victims.
Moreover, MDH has further upgraded its grantees’ reporting system to capture labor trafficking among the clients served through Safe Harbor to be able to capture data that can be helpful to make a statewide policy changes to provide comprehensive services to those who may be experiencing labor trafficking in Minnesota.
In addition, those investigating labor exploitations are now mindful of looking out for labor trafficking indicators during their investigations to identify and connect victims to services.

If you could do it all over again...

Learning never stops: Learning is the heartbeat of any successful project. While, the goal of the project is to help Minnesotans learn and identify labor trafficking, it has been very rewarding what TES has learned in the process of implementing this project. It is rewarding to identify our strengths and also where we could use the help of our collaborators to reach our desired goals.
Adaptation in a World Pandemic: Adapting to new ways of work is another skill that TES has been able to incorporate into the process of implementing this project as a result of the world pandemic. We have been able to continue to use the virtual platform to our advantage to reach new partners and collaborate in the project and other related projects. Although we have lost some contacts and partners because of staff turnover in some of the agencies that we were partnering with, adaption is now one of the key elements to help us plan for the unexpected.
It is important to know that some things are out of our control and we have to be open to continuous learning in the process and adapt accordingly to meet the goals of educating Minnesotans about labor trafficking for a positive statewide response.

One last thought

Thanks for the opportunity to learn through a hands-on project such as this and we look forward to more collaborative efforts to make an innovative change in Minnesota.
Without the trust the Bush Foundation has in The Enitan Story, backed with funding to implement the project, we would not be able to lead a statewide response through an innovative approach such as that of the Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant to foster partnerships to help stakeholders understand and identify the issue of labor trafficking by providing recommendations that will influence a statewide response to addressing labor trafficking by providing comprehensive services to victims and survivors.